Campus Queen


Candice Cruz, Miss Teen United States 2010 and UK sophomore poses amongst students outside Whitehall Classroom Building Wednesday afternoon. Photo by Scott Hannigan

On July 15, 2010, Candice Cruz heard her name called and stood in disbelief before stepping forward to receive her crown, then burst into tears. It wasn’t a scene in Miss Congeniality, however. She had just been crowned Miss Teen United States.

“I’ve never had that emotion,” Cruz said. “They called out my name and I just stood there in shock. I looked at my mom, and that’s when I started crying.”

Cruz, a UK journalism sophomore, represented Kentucky at the Miss Teen United States pageant in Las Vegas this summer and left holding the coveted winner’s crown. That’s when her reign as Miss Teen United States began.

“It’s not just winning the title,” Cruz said. “It’s a whole year process of fulfilling the title you set out to get.”

During her reign, Cruz will work with the Ronald McDonald house, the University of Kentucky Children’s Hospital and her platform, the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty. Cruz teamed with the Girl Scouts and Dove Campaign. “I make sure that they know that beauty is from the inside,” Cruz said. “I talk about how the media portrays models and that’s not real.”

Cruz said she wishes people understood that “pageants are not all about standing around and looking pretty. It is the confidence that makes everyone so beautiful.” She emphasized the inner beauty of her fellow contestants and said, “We try to make the world a better place; we aren’t just a pretty face walking around in an evening gown.”

Cruz does not believe her appearance won her the title. “I feel like it was my characteristics from the inside and not just my makeup and hair,” she said.

Although she did a few pageants growing up, Cruz did not seriously consider pageant participation until she won homecoming queen in high school. She was entered into the Kentucky Homecoming queen competition and won runner-up.

Cruz said she plans to compete in more pageants after her reign, but she is currently “just enjoying the moment and loving every second of being Miss Teen United States 2010.”

And she has plenty to enjoy. She will pose for the cover of SuperModels Unlimited this fall and will have a fashion show with Tony Bowls, the designer of the dress she wore for the competition in February. According to the United States Pageant website, each national titleholder wins $10,000 worth of cash and prizes.|

When she’s not performing duties as Miss Teen United States, Cruz stays busy.  She is a member of the Alpha Delta Pi sorority, a campus tour guide, a member of the K Book Editorial Board, a UK 101 Peer Instructor and a Wildcat Student TV reporter for Sports Zone. She hopes to one day be a news anchor for the Today Show, ET! or ESPN.

According to Cruz, popular depictions of pageants are a blend of truth and fiction. She loves Miss Congeniality, but says media pageant depictions are not completely accurate.

“Everyone has this perception of catty and cut-throat pageant girls which is completely false,“ Cruz said. “When I came off stage after being called for top 6, all of the other girls had my bathing suit and gown ready.”

Cruz brought memories like these back from the pageant, but said that her win had little impact on her personal relationships. “I am just a regular college student that loves to go to football and basketball games and meet new people,” Cruz said. “I am still the same Candice as I always have been.”

For more information about the pageant, see